|Abstract: ||Taiwan has long stressed the concept of self-sufficiency in arms production and procurement, and in this respect has made considerable progress in expanding military research and development (R&D) efforts and in building up a local defense industry. At the same time, as the demands of high-tech warfare have escalated, the gaps and deficiencies in the island’s homegrown defense industry have also increased and become more conspicuous. Consequently, over the past decade Taiwan has increasingly preferred foreign-particularly US-weapons systems in order to meet the island’s critical self-defense requirements. There are obvious risks to Taipei becoming too reliant on foreign arms suppliers, particularly in terms of guaranteeing security of supply (ironically, the very insecurities that drove Taiwan to enter into arms manufacturing in the first place). The island, however, appears to have few viable alternatives, particularly in the face of a manifest Chinese military threat.|
At issue is whether Taiwan’s increased dependencies on US. weapons systems might prompt Beijing to feel so threatened by apparently growing US.-Taiwanese military ties that China will be forced to react militarily This article argues that the current US.-Taiwanese arms-transfer relationship is not strong enough to constitute a major challenge to Chinese interests and would not prompt such an extreme reaction. Taiwan growing dependencies on US. weaponry does deal Taipei some interesting cards to play against Washington, however in particular by strengthening militarypolitical ties between the United States and Taiwan. At the same time, Taipei cannot count on a blank check from the United States in terms of arms sales, nor can the island’s defense industry necessarily afford or absorb the weapons systems and military technologies Taipei craves.
So long as Washington continues to exert reasonable self-restraint in arms and technology transfers to Taiwan, China will likely accept the status quo, despite public and vociferous protestations to the contrary.